Blinking allows your eyes to be momentarily cleansed with a quick moisture bath. On average, we blink 10-20 times per minute. When that happens, the mucus made by your eyes is cleared away. During sleep, we obviously don’t blink. As a result, gunk will build up in the corner of the eyes closest to the nose. This substance is called rheum, but commonly referred to as sleep. Cream colored mucus is normal and typically forms when the eye is trying to rid itself of a speck of dust or other irritant. Eye discharge can also indicate a larger problem like a blocked tear duct, pinkeye, dry eye, or a corneal ulcer.
Blocked Tear Duct
Tears are drained using the tear ducts in the corners of the eye near the nose. If this exit is blocked, the tears have no place to go. This can result in an infected eye or create discharge.
Pinkeye occurs when the blood vessels on the eye’s membrane (called the conjunctiva) get infected. The result is the whites of the eyes turning red or pink. This is also called conjunctivitis. Pinkeye can be the result of a bacterial infection or allergies. Discharge from the eye is usually the top symptom.
Tears are a phenomenal substance made up of water, oils, mucus, and antibodies. If the tear glands fail to make sufficient tears, the eyes can get dry. If the eyes don’t get the fluid they require, an emergency message is sent to the nervous system to send more tears. These emergency tears are not the same as regular nourishing tears. These emergency tears can create mucus and gunk around the eye.
The cornea covers the colored part of the eye, known as the iris. Sometimes an ulcer can form if the eye is irritated due to dry eye or an eye infection. The result is additional eye discharge.